Sam was really really uncomfortable in disclosing their actual biographic data such as the town of birth (similar to Gaza). Sam felt that they will be discriminated.

There was no option to "prefer not to say", or "unknown".

I don't think such biographical info will have anything to do with academic qualifications.

Will Sam get caught and what is the common consequence of this practice?What is the consequence on purposely lying on grad-school application (town of birth)

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    Is it common for a grad school application form to ask for the applicant's town of birth, other than perhaps on a detachable (i.e. concealed from admissions decision-makers) equal opportunities monitoring form? Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 11:31
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    @DanielHatton They all asked for the town of birth. Perhaps that will be on a biographic page, but there is no indicator of concealing. Perhaps we need an insider adcom member to tell us if that info is concealed.
    – dodo
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 12:58
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    @dodo In which countries is Sam applying? Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 17:55
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    @JFabianMeier where in Germany? I have never been asked for a birth certificate as a requisite for any employment in Germany (including as a doctoral student). ID card or passport is enough.
    – wimi
    Commented Dec 2, 2023 at 18:42
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    How would this situation come up? A question like "town of birth" would have to have a free-form text entry field, I assume, since I can't imagine they would have something like a dropdown listing every possible town. And if it's a free-form text box, then you could type "Decline to state". Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 7:16

4 Answers 4


You should strongly consider your motive for lying: if a person responsible for admissions is judging (not "evaluating," i.e they are forming a "like" or "dislike" opinion, rather than making educated guesses about what opportunities may have been available to you) your aptness for the program based on the place of birth written on the application, and has actionable (within their realm of being able to justify their admission recommendation or lack thereof) bias against your true place of birth, it is likely not an environment where you should spend the next several years.

In most countries, graduate schools will either offer you a stipend, or have such a high financial cost that you will need to take some kind of loan to cover tuition. In both of these cases, you will need to provide to the university (directly or indirectly) government-issued documentation, so the truth is likely to come out. Don't take your chances of lenience from a university holds a bias against you due to your place of birth.


Any sort of dishonesty is frowned upon. It could be anything from nothing to expulsion and it is impossible to say. If you lie about one thing, are you going to lie about others in the future (muses the reviewer)?

You aren't responsible for where you were born. Nor are you responsible for what others do in the place you were born. It shouldn't be an issue, but lying is definitely a potential issue.

I doubt that an exception (say, Armenia v Azerbaijan) is the question here, where there is historical evidence of discrimination. But even in almost all such cases, academics tend to be better about such things than the general population. Even US v Russia at the moment isn't an issue for individuals.

Moreover if there is a place that would discriminate against you if the "only knew", then you don't want to go there. What happens when they learn of it.

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    Also, for what it's worth, I know plenty of Israelis who disagree vehemently with the direction the current government has gone (and been going for years). Israel isn't a homogeneous place.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 22:35
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    @dodo To expand on Buffy's statement, it might take you from "worst case scenario = application rejected" to "worst case scenario = arrested".
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 23:02
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    @BryanKrause: Arrested for lying on a grad school application? Where might this happen? Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 23:04
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    @JochenGlueck The accusation wouldn't be lying on a grad school application, but that you're doing so for some nefarious reason, with fraudulent statements as evidence of guilt. Could more directly be fraud accusations if the difference in place of birth would qualify you for financial support that wouldn't otherwise be available.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 23:06
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    @Servaes: Citation needed for your first sentence. Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 7:18

You can typically read the consequences of lying on the admissions form itself. Here's an example.

The information supplied on this application is complete and true to the best of my knowledge. No materials and supporting records submitted by me or on my behalf in connection with this application or my attendance will be released to anyone other than authorized university personnel without my consent. It is understood that incorrect or falsified information will be grounds for disapproval of this application or dismissal from the university. The undersigned agrees to pay all financial obligations if admitted to and attending the university, including assessed collection costs and any obligations incurred if financial aid is terminated, reduced, or postponed for any reason. ...

So the consequence is that they have legal grounds of declining Sam's application and/or dismissing Sam from the university if he has already been admitted. It doesn't mean they will, Sam could conceivably persuade them not to. But that will be the default reaction, and the onus will be on Sam to change that default (especially since if Sam lied about this, the odds of him lying about other aspects of his application goes up).


If Sam isn't a citizen, lying is likely to attract grief from whoever checks up on visas — most countries do remarkably little data-matching, but if someone does bother that's a glaring red flag, especially as presumably they'd lie about which country they're from too.

If Sam is already at the institution in question for their undergrad, they'd be better off talking to a sympathetic senior academic and asking what information is even seen by those making admissions decisions.

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